Ranji Trophy: M. Mohammed rattles Bengal as Tamil Nadu takes first-innings lead

Fast bowler M. Mohammed and left-arm spinner Rahil Shah account for nine wickets between them as Bengal is bowled out for 189.

Impressive display: M. Mohammad exults after dismissing Bengal’s Shreevats Goswami.   -  K. Pichumani

Pace bowling on a dry, brown sub-continental surface is a lot about heart, skill and that precious ability to adapt. M. Mohammad displayed all these qualities for Tamil Nadu, scalping four, on an eventful second day of the Ranji Trophy duel at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Thursday.

He was smart, industrious and shouldered the load of being the leader of Tamil Nadu’s pace pack.

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Mohammed was the impact player for Tamil Nadu on a day when left-arm spinner Rahil Shah, accurate, spinning the ball away and varying his pace, played a key role, too, with a five-wicket haul. Replying to Tamil Nadu’s first innings 263 — B. Aparajith made 103 (273b, 8x4, 1x6) while seamer Ishan Porel took five wickets — Bengal was dismissed for 189. Then, amidst fading light, experienced Bengal seamer Ashoke Dinda breached left-handed Abhinav Mukund’s defence from round the wicket.

Raman stands tall

For the visitor, short statured left-handed opener Abhishek Raman batted with technique and resolve for a fighting 98 (173b, 10x4, 1x6) even as wickets fell around him. His back-lift may be high but the willow comes down straight, and on a track where batting was never easy, he played with balance and poise, defending solidly, driving beautifully through covers, using his feet against spin and innovating, too, with reverse sweeps and dabs.

Abhishek Raman en route to his 98 on Thursday at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium. Photo: K. Pichumani

 

Abhishek, the ninth batsman to be dismissed, fell agonising close to a hundred, brilliantly held by J. Kousik, running to his right from long-off, off Rahil.

Earlier, Mohammed made serious inroads. Importantly, the seamer got his tactics right on a surface of inconsistent bounce. He pitched the ball up, got the batsmen to drive, and had a cover and mid-wicket, both short, in place for the miscued stroke. Bowling with control, Mohammed had the big fish, Manoj Tiwari, held at short mid-wicket. The ball seemed to stop a tad on the batsman.

Chipping away

Among Mohammed’s other victims were opener Koushik Ghosh, picked up at cover, left-handed Sudip Chatterjee, edging a delivery angled across to be brilliantly held by B. Indrajith at first slip, and Shreevats Goswami, caught and bowled; Mohammed went round the wicket and extracted a fatal drive from the southpaw. And Rahil contained and struck, operating to the field and chipping away at the batsmen. The pace-spin combination of Mohammed and Rahil worked for Tamil Nadu.

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During Tamil Nadu’s first innings, a defiant Mohammed (24) had added 64 precious runs in 143 balls for the eight wicket with Aparajith; it was the second highest partnership of the innings.

It was Mohammed’s day all right.

Brief Scores
  • Tamil Nadu 263 (B. Aparajith 103, K. Gandhi 51, Ishan Porel 5 for 48, Pradipta Pramanik 3 for 82) and 12 for 1 leads Bengal 189 (Abhishek Raman 98, Rahil Shah 5 for 46, M. Mohammad 4 for 39) by 86 runs.